Sjoukje Zaal is head of the Microsoft Cloud Center of Excellence at Capgemini, Microsoft Regional Director and Microsoft Azure MVP with over 20 years of experience providing architecture, development, consultancy, and design expertise. She works at Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation. She mainly focuses on Cloud, Security, Productivity, and IoT.
She loves to share her knowledge and is active in the Microsoft community as a co-founder of the user groups Tech Daily Chronicle, Global XR Community and the Mixed Reality User Group. She is director of the Global AI Community and board member of Azure Thursdays. Sjoukje is an international speaker and involved in organizing many events. She wrote several books and writes blogs.
Today we publish our first episode of Walking with the RD’s!
Together with my fellow Microsoft Regional Directors from the Netherlands, Marcel de Vries: CTO of Xpirit, Maarten Goet: Director at Wortell, Maarten Eekels: Chief, Digital Officer and Managing Partner at Portiva, and Andre Carlucci, Global Director of Application Engineering at Kinley, we will do a monthly walk where we will discuss various business related topics.
In this first episode, we will talk about the following topic:
“Working from home’ while still performing. How do we deal with this and what has worked very well for ourselves and the teams we work with.
What are Microsoft Regional Directors?
The Regional Director Program provides Microsoft leaders with the customer insights and real-world voices it needs to continue empowering developers and IT professionals with the world’s most innovative and impactful tools, services, and solutions.
If you want more information about the Microsoft Regional Director program, you can take a look here.
If you want to know how we experienced the last year working from home, what are challenges are and how we supported our teams, check out this first episode!
One of our clients helps several retailers, both local and global, acquire, engage, and retain their customers.
They achieve this by providing strategy, tools, and tactics. These services are provided to the customer in a digital way. The customer can use web portals, a variety of different services, and can get valuable insights into their data.
To bring their services to the next level, and to address the requirements that their customers have now and in the future, they decided to take advantage of using the cloud. By leveraging cloud-native services, they are able to provide their customers with a set of secure services and give real-time insights into data. To support their customers in the most effective way, they decided to host their services on Microsoft Azure.
The challenge this client is facing is similar to the challenges a lot of organizations face right now. There is an urgent need for digital transformation to keep addressing customer needs, stay competitive, and innovate and use state-of-the-art technologies. But most of the services that are offered to their customers still run on an on-premises infrastructure that is not ready to support this.
This was also the challenge for our client. They were providing services that were still running in an on-premises environment, which was not able to provide innovative technologies and scale accordingly to address future needs.
This client reached out to us to help them implement cloud-native services to renew their IT landscape, offer their customers a set of services that are specifically designed for performance, security, and redundancy and provide real-time insights in data coming from various sources. This data is partially stored in Azure, but also in on-premises databases.
Together with the client, we decided to take advantage of all the cloud-native services that Azure has to offer, from a microservices and data analytics and insights perspective. The project was divided into two smaller projects, starting with building a full cloud-native microservices environment using only serverless technology. This will be followed by a new project for storing customer data using Azure Data Lake, implementing real-time insights using Azure Event Hub, and using various services to provide interactive, immersive dashboards and reports, such as Azure Data Share and other tooling. We decided that our cloud-native development offering was most applicable to this project.
With our offering, we are providing tour clients with:
Domain-driven design (DDD): When implementing a microservices architecture, DDD is a design approach you can benefit from. Where to draw the boundaries is the key task when designing and defining a microservice. DDD patterns help you understand the complexity in the domain.
Cloud-native design patterns: To build highly reliable, scalable, secure applications and services, every developer needs to make use of common cloud-native design patterns. We focus fully on implementing Microsoft best practices and patterns.
Dev/test optimization: We bring our own development and test environments to the project. For this, we use container technologies, which have all the commonly used tooling and software pre-deployed. Next, we use automated performance and acceptance tests, fully integrated in Azure DevOps.
Everything-as-code: We offer out-of-the-box landing zones, which include security and compliance policies and monitoring rules. These monitoring rules are based on our experiences and best practices that we have developed over the years managing cloud environments for our global customers. We are implementing zero-touch deployments using Azure DevOps and CI/CD pipelines for automatically building and releasing applications and services.
How we implemented it
The first step was to deploy the landing zone, which included an API Management gateway, a VNet, log analytics, application insights, security policies, and default monitoring and logging rules in the Azure subscription. We deployed it automatically using CI/CD pipelines so that it can easily be deployed across different environments. Next, we started building the first APIs, using serverless services, such as Azure Functions, Azure Storage, Azure Service Bus, an Azure Key Vault, and more. We implemented cloud-native design patterns to build them. To get access to the data that still resides in the SAP on-premises environment, an Express Route connection was set up. For authentication, we used Azure Active Directory, Auth 2.0, Open ID Connect and the out-of-the-box libraries that are provided by Microsoft, such as MSAL.
By using landing zones, cloud-native patterns and Microsoft best practices, and securing it using Azure Policies and Azure Active Directory in our solution, we now have a solid foundation for rapidly building and deploying additional services.
At this stage, we have successfully implemented a set of secure microservices for the client, which are automatically deployed across environments, securely connecting to an on-premises SAP environment, and exposed via a single gateway. Next, we will be implementing the second project, where we will form an additional DevOps team that will implement the solution for storing customer data, and provide real-time insights.
This blog provides an overview of a cloud-native project that we are currently implementing for one of our customers. At Capgemini, we have a lot of experience, use cases, and best practices in implementing cloud-native practices and designing and building cloud-native applications and systems for our enterprise customers. If you want more information about our experiences with this, you can contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Our Azure Thursday meetup was a huge success again! This time, we had the following speakers and sessions:
Rory Preddy | Programming for Accessibility
Building accessibility into the planning stages of programming can eliminate barriers to participation and create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. Programming for diversity serves as an unquestionable indicator that your software embraces the diversity of your users and cares about their safety and comfort.
Andre van den Berg | Blogging with Markdown and Azure DevOps
Explaining the basics of markdown, and then show how you can build a static site with Hugo generated from the markdown files. Then will show how to automate this with Azure DevOps. So first we put the markdown files on a Azure Repo so we can have version control. Then we build a Build pipeline in Azure DevOps to generate the Artifact that we can use in the Release pipeline to Publish the static generated website on Azure Webapps when there is a commit on the master of the Repo.
Esther Barthel & Freek Berson | Empowering ARM and JSON with Project ‘Bicep’
70% of all declarative resources created in Azure are done via ARM Templates! ARM Templates are based on JSON and a declarative syntax, but how easy is it to author these? Join Esther and Freek for a fun and demo-heavy session and learn how to empower your ARM Templates with Project ‘Bicep’!
Cloud skills are becoming more popular every day! A lot of organizations are embracing the cloud for their applications, infrastructure, Machine Learning and IoT solutions. And this will grow significally in the next years!
This also means that (Microsoft) IT professionals need to update their skills as well. In this article I will give an overview how you can get started updating your skills and be ready for all the Azure work that is coming in the near future!
Create a free Azure account
The first step, is to create a free Azure account. With this account you can test all the different services and deploy your code to Azure during the different trainings. You get 12 months of free access to all the different Azure services for a limited amount per month.
Microsoft Learn offers free, interactive, hands-on training to help you develop Azure technical skills. You can find a variety of learning paths on Microsoft Learn, such as Azure, Microsoft 365, .NET development, Power Platform an more. You can also watch Learn TV, or explore the different Azure certifications from there.
For start learning Azure, the following learning paths are very interesting:
Azure Fundamentals Learning Paths:
Azure Fundamentals part 1: Describe core Azure concepts: This learning path covers the benefits of cloud computing in Azure. It explains cloud concepts such as high availability, scalability, elasticity, agility, and disaster recovery. It also covers geographic distribution concepts such as Azure regions, region pairs, and availability zones.
Azure Fundamentals part 2: Describe core Azure services: This covers the different services that are available in Azure, including compute, network, storage, and databases. It also covers virtualization services such as Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Container Instances, Azure Kubernetes Service, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Yesterday we had a very interesting Azure Thursday meetup again. We had the following speakers and sessions:
Scott Hanselman | Part II: Moving a 17 year old legacy blog platform to the cloud
Scott’s blog is super old. The tech is super old. Scott is super old. What happens when he tries to move the whole Hanselman online mess to Azure? Let’s talk to him and find out.
This is part II in this saga we started last July. Scott will tell us how he succeeded and everyone knows the part II in the saga is even better than the first one.
Martijn Beenker – The enterprise data lake: monitoring at scale
When data lakes grow, they grow in size, complexity and inhabitants – creating complex dependencies across wide ranges of Azure services and different teams. Creating a true operations challenge: how do you find and respond to incidents, and who should respond?
During this session, we’ll look at how to monitor across the boundaries of Azure services and development teams that together make the ecosystem of the data lake. Aided by the Four Golden Signals and Azure Monitor capabilities we’ll create the blueprint for effective monitoring and incident handling. No matter how big the lake.
Menaka Baskerpillai | All about Azure Network Securities
In this session Menaka is going to explain how to implement network security in Azure. Networking security plays an important role in Todays world. Implementing security via cloud services provider plays a vital role.
You can watch the whole recording of yesterdays stream here: